A captivating blend of reportage and memoir exploring the history of the Chicago Cubs
When Rich Cohen was eight years old, his father took him to see a Cubs game. On the way out of the park, his father asked him to make a promise. "Promise me you will never be a Cubs fan. The Cubs do not win," he explained, "and because of that, a Cubs fan will have a diminished life determined by low expectations. That team will screw up your life." As a result, Cohen became not just a Cubs fan but one of the biggest Cubs fans in the world. In this book, he captures the story of the team, its players and crazy days. Billy Sunday and Ernie Banks, Three Finger Brown and Ryne Sandberg, Bill Buckner, the Bartman Ball, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo--the early dominance followed by a 107 year trek across the wilderness. It's all here--not just what happened, but what it felt like and what it meant. He searches for the cause of the famous curse. Was it the billy goat, kicked out of Wrigley Field in Game 5 of the 1945 World Series, or does it go back further, to the very origins of the franchise? Driven mad with futility, he went on the road with the team in search of answers, interviewed great players present and past, researched in libraries but also in the bleachers, double-fisted, a frosty malt in each hand, demanding answers. He came to see the curse as a burden but also as a blessing. Cubs fans are unique, emissaries from a higher realm, warning of hubris and vanity. The blue cap with the red C said, "My Kingdom is not of this world." He interviewed the architects of the 2016 Cubs, the team that broke the curse. Here's what he asked: How the hell did you do it? He was at (almost) every game of the 2016 playoff run--a run that culminated in (maybe) the single greatest baseball game ever played. He was excited but also terrified. Losing is easy. What would it mean to win? Wearing a Yankees hat meant corporate excellence. Wearing a Mets hat meant miracles. But wearing a Cubs hat meant loving the game on its most humdrum afternoon--September 13, 1979, say, 14 games out of first place, Larry Bittner driving in Ivan DeJesus. Would we lose that? Would being a Cubs become ordinary? A mix of memoir, reporting, history and baseball theology, this book, forty years in the making, has never been written because it never could be--only with the 2016 World Series can the true arc of the story finally be understood.
When Cal Ripken Jr. began his career with the Baltimore Orioles at age twenty-one, he had no idea he would someday beat the historic record of playing 2,130 games in a row, a record set forty-two years before by the fabled "Iron Horse" of the New York Yankees, Lou Gehrig. Ripken went on to surpass that record by 502 games, and the baseball world was floored. Few feats in sports history have generated more acclaim. But the record spawns an array of questions. When did someone first think it was a good idea to play in so many games without taking a day off? Who owned the record before Gehrig? Whose streak--Gehrig's or Ripken's--was the more difficult achievement?
Through probing research, meticulous analysis, and colorful parallel storytelling, The Streak delves into this impressive but controversial milestone, unraveling Gehrig's at-times unwitting pursuit of that goal (Babe Ruth used to think Gehrig crazy for wanting to play every game), and Ripken's fierce determination to stay in the lineup and continue to contribute whatever he could even as his skills diminished with age.
The question looms: How do these streaks compare? There were so many factors: the length of seasons, the number of teams in the major leagues, the inclusion of nonwhite players, travel, technology, medical advances, and even media are all part of the equation. This is a book that captures the deeply American appreciation--as seen in the sport itself--for a workaday mentality and that desire to be there for the game every time it called.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, tucked away in upstate New York in a small town called Cooperstown, is far from any major media market or big league stadium. Yet no sports hall of fame's membership is so hallowed, nor its qualifications so debated, nor its voting process so dissected.
Since its founding in 1936, the Hall of Fame's standards for election have been nebulous, and its selection processes arcane, resulting in confusion among voters, not to mention mistakes in who has been recognized and who has been bypassed. Numerous so-called "greats" have been inducted despite having not been so great, while popular but controversial players such as all-time home run leader Barry Bonds and all-time hits leader Pete Rose are on the outside looking in.
Now, in The Cooperstown Casebook, Jay Jaffe shows us how to use his revolutionary ranking system to ensure the right players are recognized. The foundation of Jaffe's approach is his JAWS system, an acronym for the Jaffe WAR Score, which he developed over a decade ago. Through JAWS, each candidate can be objectively compared on the basis of career and peak value to the players at his position who are already in the Hall of Fame. Because of its utility, JAWS has gained an increasing amount of exposure in recent years. Through his analysis, Jaffe shows why the Hall of Fame still matters and how it can remain relevant in the 21st century.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar explores his 50-year friendship with Coach John Wooden, one of the most enduring and meaningful relationships in sports history.
When future NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was still an 18-year-old high school basketball prospect from New York City named Lew Alcindor, he accepted a scholarship from UCLA largely on the strength of Coach John Wooden's reputation as a winner. It turned out to be the right choice, as Alcindor and his teammates won an unprecedented three NCAA championship titles. But it also marked the beginning of one of the most extraordinary and enduring friendships in the history of sports. In COACH WOODEN AND ME, Abdul-Jabbar reveals the inspirational story of how his bond with John Wooden evolved from a history-making coach-player mentorship into a deep and genuine friendship that transcended sports, shaped the course of both men's lives, and lasted for half a century.
COACH WOODEN AND ME is a stirring tribute to the subtle but profound influence that Wooden had on Kareem as a player, and then as a person, as they began to share their cultural, religious, and family values while facing some of life's biggest obstacles. From his first day of practice, when the players were taught the importance of putting on their athletic socks properly, to gradually absorbing the sublime wisdom of Coach Wooden's now famous "Pyramid of Success"; to learning to cope with the ugly racism that confronted black athletes during the turbulent Civil Rights era as well as losing loved ones, Abdul-Jabbar fondly recalls how Coach Wooden's fatherly guidance not only paved the way for his unmatched professional success but also made possible a lifetime of personal fulfillment.
Full of intimate, never-before-published details and delivered with the warmth and erudition of a grateful student who has learned his lessons well, COACH WOODEN AND ME is at once a celebration of the unique philosophical outlook of college basketball's most storied coach and a moving testament to the all-conquering power of friendship.
Heartbreak and hope. Charmed and haunted. My Cubs is Scott Simon's love letter to his Chicago Cubs, World Series winners for the first time in over a century. Replete with personal reflections, club lore, memorable anecdotes, and tales of frenetic fandom, My Cubs recounts the franchise's pivotal moments with the wise and adoring intimacy of a long-suffering devotee and Chicago native. Simon illustrates how the condition of "Cubness" has defined the life of so many Chicagoans and how the team's fortunes became intertwined with the aspirations of its faithful. With the curse finally broken on November 2, 2016, My Cubs is the perfect portrayal of paradise lost and found.
you an in-depth look at his journey to catch and live the job of his dreams. From playing with action figures of Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, The Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan to actually announcing them to the ring-Justin truly lived out his dream. Apart from announcing the top wrestlers in the industry from "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, The Rock to John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Ric Flair and The Undertaker, Justin also describes the politics, travel requirements of WWE talent and the overall treatment from the monopoly that drives the wrestling industry. There were so many ups, but also so many downs, and this title is the backstage pass for those who have always wondered what it would be like as a wrestling fan to actually get to work at the Disneyland of wrestling. With no hopes or interest to return to WWE and unlike those who write books while still in a relationship with the company, Justin is very honest in sharing his story. A world that's more than just scripted ballet and spandex with real-life physical action and hardworking athletes, the story of working with individuals who are real-life superheroes to all ages and genders and ethnic cities all over the world.
Predictably Irrational meets Moneyball in ESPN veteran writer and statistical analyst Keith Law's iconoclastic look at the numbers game of baseball, proving why some of the most trusted stats are surprisingly wrong, explaining what numbers actually work, and exploring what the rise of Big Data means for the future of the sport.
For decades, statistics such as batting average, saves recorded, and pitching won-lost records have been used to measure individual players' and teams' potential and success. But in the past fifteen years, a revolutionary new standard of measurement--sabermetrics--has been embraced by front offices in Major League Baseball and among fantasy baseball enthusiasts. But while sabermetrics is recognized as being smarter and more accurate, traditionalists, including journalists, fans, and managers, stubbornly believe that the "old" way--a combination of outdated numbers and "gut" instinct--is still the best way. Baseball, they argue, should be run by people, not by numbers.
In this informative and provocative book, the renowned ESPN analyst and senior baseball writer demolishes a century's worth of accepted wisdom, making the definitive case against the long-established view. Armed with concrete examples from different eras of baseball history, logic, a little math, and lively commentary, he shows how the allegiance to these numbers--dating back to the beginning of the professional game--is firmly rooted not in accuracy or success, but in baseball's irrational adherence to tradition.
While Law gores sacred cows, from clutch performers to RBIs to the infamous save rule, he also demystifies sabermetrics, explaining what these "new" numbers really are and why they're vital. He also considers the game's future, examining how teams are using Data--from PhDs to sophisticated statistical databases--to build future rosters; changes that will transform baseball and all of professional sports.
In this definitive biography, veteran sportswriter Tom Callahan shines a spotlight on one of the greatest golfers ever to play the game, Arnold Palmer.
The winner of more than ninety championships, including four Masters Tournaments, Arnold Palmer was a legend in twentieth century sports: a supremely gifted competitor beloved for his powerful hitting, his nerve on the greens, and his great rapport with fans. Perhaps above all others, Palmer was the reason golf's popularity exploded, as the King of the links helped define golf's golden age along with Jack Nicklaus and Gary Player.
In addition to his talent on the golf course, Palmer was a brilliant entrepreneur off it, and one of the first sportsmen to create his own successful marketing brand. Forging an alliance with sports agent Mark McCormick, Palmer parlayed his popularity into lucrative deals, and helped pave the way for the multi-million-dollar contracts that have become standard for stars across all sports. But beyond his business acumen, Palmer was always a larger-than-life character, and Arnie recounts a host of unforgettable anecdotes from a long life in the spotlight.
Tom Callahan knew Palmer well for many years, and now pays tribute to this golfing icon. Filled with great stories from the key people in Palmer's life, Arnie is an entertaining and illuminating portrait of a remarkable man and his extraordinary legacy.
The inside story of LeBron James's return and ultimate triumph in Cleveland.
What really happened when LeBron James stunned the NBA by leaving a potential dynasty in Miami to come home to play with the Cleveland Cavaliers? How did the Cavs use secret meetings to put together the deal to add star Kevin Love? Who really made the controversial decision to fire coach David Blatt when the team was in first place? Where did the greatest comeback in NBA history truly begin-and end? RETURN OF THE KING takes you onto the private planes, inside the locker-room conversations, and into the middle of the intense huddles where one of the greatest stories in basketball history took place, resulting in the Cavs winning the 2016 NBA title after trailing the Golden State Warriors three games to one. You'll hear from all the characters involved: the players, the executives, the agents, and the owners as they reveal stories never before told. Get the background on all the controversies, the rivalries, and the bad blood from two reporters who were there for every day, plot twist, and social media snafu as they take you through the fascinating ride that culminated in a heart-stopping Game Seven.
The Oakland A's of the early 1970s were the most transformative team in baseball history. Never before had an entire organization so collectively traumatized baseball's establishment with its outlandish behavior and business decisions, let alone an indisputably winning record: five consecutive division titles and three straight championships. The drama that played out on the field was exceeded only by the drama in the clubhouse and front office. But those A's, with their garish uniforms and outlandish facial hair, redefined the game for coming generations.
Under the visionary leadership of owner Charles O. Finley, the team assembled such luminaries as Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter, Rollie Fingers, and Vida Blue. Finley acted as his own general manager, his insatiable need for control dictating everything from the playlist of the ballpark organist to the menu for the media lounge. So pervasive was his meddling that one of his managers, Dick Williams, quit in the middle of the championship celebration following Oakland's Game 7 victory over the Mets in the 1973 World Series. The advent of free agency spelled the end of Finley's reign; within two years, his dynasty was lost.
A sprawling, brawling history of one of baseball's unforgettable teams, Dynastic, Bombastic, Fantastic is a paean to a turbulent, magical time.
In 1997, Tiger Woods was already among the most-watched and closely examined athletes in history. But it wasn't until the Masters Tournament that his career would definitively change forever. Woods, then only 21, won the Masters by a historic 12 shots, which remains the widest margin of victory in the tournament's history, making it an iconic moment for him and sports.
Now, 20 years later, Woods is ready to explore his history with the game, how it has changed over the years, and what it was like winning such an important event. With never-before-heard stories, this book will provide keen insight from one of the game's all-time greats.
From the Casey Award-winning author of Bill Veeck: Baseball's Greatest Maverick, the first full biography of Leo Durocher, one of the most colorful and important figures in baseball history.
Leo Durocher (1906-1991) was baseball's all-time leading cocky, flamboyant, and galvanizing character, casting a shadow across several eras, from the time of Babe Ruth to the Space Age Astrodome, from Prohibition through the Vietnam War. For more than forty years, he was at the forefront of the game, with a Zelig-like ability to be present as a player or manager for some of the greatest teams and defining baseball moments of the twentieth century. A rugged, combative shortstop and a three-time All-Star, he became a legendary manager, winning three pennants and a World Series in 1954.
Durocher performed on three main stages: New York, Chicago, and Hollywood. He entered from the wings, strode to where the lights were brightest, and then took a poke at anyone who tried to upstage him. On occasion he would share the limelight, but only with Hollywood friends such as actor Danny Kaye, tough-guy and sometime roommate George Raft, Frank Sinatra, and his third wife, movie star Laraine Day.
As he did with Bill Veeck, Dickson explores Durocher's life and times through primary source materials, interviews with those who knew him, and original newspaper files. A superb addition to baseball literature, Leo Durocher offers fascinating and fresh insights into the racial integration of baseball, Durocher's unprecedented suspension from the game, the two clubhouse revolts staged against him in Brooklyn and Chicago, and Durocher's vibrant life off the field.
The Boys in the Boat meets A League of Their Own in this true story of a Depression-era championship women's team.
In the early 1930s, during the worst drought and financial depression in American history, Sam Babb began to dream. Like so many others, this charismatic Midwestern basketball coach wanted a reason to have hope. Traveling from farm to farm near the tiny Oklahoma college where he coached, Babb recruited talented, hardworking young women and offered them a chance at a better life: a free college education in exchange for playing on his basketball team, the Cardinals.
Despite their fears of leaving home and the sacrifices that their families would face, the women joined the team. And as Babb coached the Cardinals, something extraordinary happened. These remarkable athletes found a passion for the game and a heartfelt loyalty to one another and their coach--and they began to win.
Combining exhilarating sports writing and exceptional storytelling, Dust Bowl Girls takes readers on the Cardinals' intense, improbable journey all the way to an epic showdown with the prevailing national champions, helmed by the legendary Babe Didrikson. Lydia Reeder captures a moment in history when female athletes faced intense scrutiny from influential figures in politics, education, and medicine who denounced women's sports as unhealthy and unladylike. At a time when a struggling nation was hungry for inspiration, this unlikely group of trailblazers achieved much more than a championship season.
Over one year, five triathlons, and hundreds of training hours, Lucy uncovers the ins and outs of women's triathlon: how to wear a sports bra under a wetsuit, the competition and camaraderie, whether getting over 'jelly legs' makes you a more resilient human being -- and finds that maybe she doesn't know her limits after all...
Funny, warm, and engaging, Run, Ride, Sink or Swim is for both the tri-curious and the dedicated tri-hard, and for any woman looking for inspiration to make the transition from sofa to start line.
Sports fans see Joe Buck everywhere: broadcasting one of the biggest games in the NFL every week, calling the World Series every year, announcing the Super Bowl every three years. They know his father, Jack Buck, is a broadcasting legend and that he was beloved in his adopted hometown of St. Louis.
Yet they have no idea who Joe really is. Or how he got here. They don't know how he almost blew his career. They haven't read his funniest and most embarrassing stories or heard about his interactions with the biggest sports stars of this era.
They don't know how hard he can laugh at himself--or that he thinks some of his critics have a point. And they don't know what it was really like to grow up in his father's shadow. Joe and Jack were best friends, but it wasn't that simple. Jack, the voice of the St. Louis Cardinals for almost fifty years, helped Joe get his broadcasting start at eighteen. But Joe had to prove himself, first as a minor league radio announcer and then on local TV, national TV with ESPN, and then finally on FOX. He now has a successful, Emmy-winning career, but only after a lot of dues-paying, learning, and pretty damn entertaining mistakes that are recounted in this book.
In his memoir, Joe takes us through his life on and off the field. He shares the lessons he learned from his father, the errors he made along the way, and the personal mountain he climbed and conquered, all of which have truly made him a Lucky Bastard.
A refreshing and thought-provoking look at athletes whose legacies have been reduced to one defining moment of defeat--those on the flip side of an epic triumph--and what their experiences can teach us about competition, life, and the human spirit.
Every sports fan recalls with amazing accuracy a pivotal winning moment involving a favorite team or player--Henry Aaron hitting his 715th home run to pass Babe Ruth; Christian Laettner's famous buzzer beating shot in the NCAA tournament for Duke. Yet lost are the stories on the other side of these history-making moments, the athletes who experienced not transcendent glory but crushing disappointment: the cornerback who missed the tackle on the big touchdown; the relief pitcher who lost the series; the world-record holding Olympian who fell on the ice.
In Losing Isn't Everything, famed sportscaster Curt Menefee, joined by bestselling writer Michael Arkush, examines a range of signature "disappointments" from the wide world of sports, interviewing the subject at the heart of each loss and uncovering what it means--months, years, or decades later--to be associated with failure. While history is written by the victorious, Menefee argues that these moments when an athlete has fallen short are equally valuable to sports history, offering deep insights into the individuals who suffered them and about humanity itself.
Telling the losing stories behind such famous moments as the Patriots' Rodney Harrison guarding the Giants' David Tyree during the "Helmet Catch" in Super Bowl XLII, Mary Decker's fall in the 1984 Olympic 1500m, and Craig Ehlo who gave up "The Shot" to Michael Jordan in the 1989 NBA playoffs, Menefee examines the legacy of the hardest loses, revealing the unique path that athletes have to walk after they lose on their sport's biggest stage. Shedding new light some of the most accepted scapegoat stories in the sports cannon, he also revisits both the Baltimore Colts' loss to the Jets in Super Bowl III, as well as the Red Sox loss in the 1986 World Series, showing why, despite years of humiliation, it might not be all Bill Buckner's fault.
Illustrated with sixteen pages of color photos, this considered and compassionate study offers invaluable lessons about pain, resilience, disappointment, remorse, and acceptance that can help us look at our lives and ourselves in a profound new way.
From minor-hockey phenomenon to Hall of Fame sensation, Wayne Gretzky rewrote the record books, his accomplishments becoming the stuff of legend. Dubbed "The Great One," he is considered by many to be the greatest hockey player who ever lived. No one has seen more of the game than he has--but he has never discussed in depth just what it was he saw. For the first time, Gretzky discusses candidly what the game looks like to him and introduces us to the people who inspired and motivated him: mentors, teammates, rivals, the famous and the lesser known. Weaving together lives and moments from an extraordinary career, he reflects on the players who inflamed his imagination when he was a kid, the way he himself figured in the dreams of so many who came after; takes us onto the ice and into the dressing rooms to meet the friends who stood by him and the rivals who spurred him to greater heights; shows us some of the famous moments in hockey history through the eyes of someone who regularly made that history. Warm, direct, and revelatory, it is a book that gives us number 99, the man and the player, like never before.